Connor Hellebuyck added one final piece of hardware to his mantel Friday before departing UMass Lowell for the NHL.
The sophomore goaltender, who last week signed a three-year contract with the Winnipeg Jets, accepted the inaugural Mike Richter Award as the nation’s top goalie at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Hellebuyck posted NCAA bests in goals against average (1.79) and save percentage (.941) this season while leading the River Hawks to a second consecutive Hockey East championship.
The Commerce, Mich., native said after accepting the honor that he used to idolize the former New York Rangers great for whom the award is named.
“This is a huge milestone in my life. With Mike Richter as the namesake,” Hellebuyck said, via Mike McMahon of College Hockey News. “Talking with him is something I’ll never forget.
“I grew up looking up to (former Washington Capitals goalie) Olaf Kolzig and Mike Richter. … Yeah, I’m big and boring, but I’ll never give up on a puck.”
Hellebuyck leaves Lowell with a career record of 38-12-2 and — perhaps the most impressive stat of all — as many shutouts as he had losses. He led the River Hawks to consecutive 4-0 wins over Notre Dame and UNH in the 2014 Hockey East tournament and a 2-1 victory over Minnesota State-Mankato in the first round of the NCAA tourney before falling to Boston College 4-3 in the regional finals.
Northeastern senior Clay Witt also was a finalist for the award.
Photo via Twitter/@PerryLaskaris